Support the Right of Self-Defense

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Support the Right of Self-Defense

by Ari Armstrong, May 1999

Those who oppose the right of self-defense went on the offensive after the Columbine tragedy, calling for ever more infringements on gun ownership.

The anti-gun crowd demanded the NRA cancel its annual, legally mandated meeting in Denver, because the meeting allegedly wasn't appropriate following the massacre, even though the NRA and other gun groups sponsor firearms safety courses and advocate the right of citizens to defend themselves against criminals. (The NRA does not always consistently advocate that right.) Hypocritically, those who oppose guns found no compunctions about politicizing the tragedy in order to push their gun control agenda which threatens public safety.

When the NRA scaled back its meetings, and Colorado legislators pulled two pro-gun bills from consideration, did these actions earn the praise of the gun-control movement? Of course not.

Instead, gun owners were labeled as cowards. It was alleged that gun advocates backed down, not out of respect for the victims of the tragedy, but because they were "ashamed" of owning guns and supporting the right of self-defense. We read it in letters to editors, we read it in opinion columns, we heard it in calls to radio programs. Among those who oppose firearms, gun rights advocates are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Those who oppose the right of self-defense act as if they stand on the moral high-ground. Too often, gun advocates grant them that unearned position. I watched in embarrassment as Wayne LaPierre, vice-president of the NRA, stuttered and mumbled a retreat on a national TV show, Meet the Press. LaPierre was asked point-blank, "Do you support mandatory safety locks on guns?" Instead of giving the principled answer, "I am flatly opposed to so-called 'mandatory safety-locks' because they render guns useless against crime," LaPierre said only that he supports voluntary locks, without mentioning why mandatory locks threaten public safety.

I watched in disgust as Colorado law makers pulled two good gun bills from the floor of the legislature out of fear of the gun control lobby.

It's time that those who support the right of self-defense rise to their rightful place on the moral high-ground. It's time we stop backing down from baseless, emotionally-driven criticism, and start standing up for self-defense and public safety, which is to say the right to own guns.

"Mandatory safety-locks" are more properly called death-locks. That will be their result. In a May 12 letter to The Rocky Mountain News, Lori Dubetz asks, "Why are child-safety caps required on aspirin bottles but child-safety locks are not required on guns?" The answer is that spending a few extra moments fidgeting with an aspirin bottle will never cost a person his or her life. But spending extra minutes trying to free a gun from a death-lock will render a gun mostly useless against criminals.

On May 10, Elizabeth MaGruder of Heathrow, Florida shot and killed a stalker as he took aim at Elizabeth's husband inside the couple's home. If Elizabeth's gun had had a death-lock on it, her husband might have been just that -- dead. And Elizabeth might be dead as well.

Of course, if Elizabeth and her husband had been killed by the criminal because the gun-control advocates had previously mandated death-locks on Elizabeth's gun, those same gun-control advocates would have politicized the tragedy to call for even more laws to disarm more people like Elizabeth.

Lori Dubetz in her letter also asks, "Why has our legislature determined that 18-year-olds... are responsible enough to buy deadly weapons?" The answer is that nearly all 18-year-olds are responsible enough, and some of them need guns to protect themselves from crime. If an 18 year old woman is threatened by a violent ex-boyfriend, what's she supposed to do -- wait for the police to outline her body in white chalk?

Crime statistics from states that permit the concealed carry of guns show that such laws reduce crime. Of relevance is not just the fact that people shoot more threatening criminals, but that guns scare away many criminals without even being brandished. The irony is that those of us who arm ourselves keep gun-control advocates safer by reducing crime. Where guns are prohibited or restricted, criminals know they can commit mayhem without serious repercussions.

It's time for the supporters of self-defense to go on the offensive in calling for more gun rights. A better-armed, better-trained society is a safer society. Those who oppose the right of self-defense may be shameless in their disparagement of rights, but self-defense advocates must stand proudly for the virtues of gun ownership.

The Colorado Freedom